Thursday, January 1, 2009
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Steven Seagal is featured in Fire Down Below as his most colorful character to date. His character, Jack Taggart, is an Environmental Protection Agency agent who has gone deep undercover in a backwoods Kentucky mining town. His cover - a church carpenter.
Taggart is there because of an anonymous letter sent by an old weirdo who believes that toxic waste is being dumped in the old mines and making the townsfolk sick. Taggart's plan is to blend into this small mountain community by going around fixing up folks' porches and roofs and such. Once he gains the trust of a good witness he can pump them for info and take down the scum that's infecting this helpless little town. It doesn't take long for Seagal to figure out that the town is run by a big coal tycoon Orin Hanner, and his son Orin Jr. It also doesn't take long to figure out that Hanner is the only person capable of polluting the mines so vastly. Unfortunately Hanner is no fool. He's onto Taggart even faster than Jack is onto him. Hanner Jr. is in charge of taking care of things and making sure Jack doesn't outstay his welcome.
First Jack runs into an ambush and is surrounded by armed hillbillies. He thinks quickly though, and tells one of them "You gotta pretty mouth boy." and then kicks the shit out of him and his 2 friends. Next Orin Jr. has his cronies toss a couple of pissed off rattle snakes into Taggarts living area. Jack catches the two rattle snakes with his bare hands, and the next day puts them in the two guys' truck which makes them freak out and crash. Meanwhile, Jack is still blending in beautifully, with his big fancy leather jackets and snake skin boots. He has honed in on two particular townsfolk. The first is some woman, Sara Kellogg who no one likes because they think she killed her daddy. The second is an old coot named Cotton Harry who eventually confesses to being the anonymous informant. Orin Jr. is pretty pissed about his failed attacks and so he decides to try to get Taggart into trouble with the law, seeing how the sheriff is on daddy's payroll. Jr's boys start a brawl outside of a country store and Jack finds himself surrounded by a dozen or so rednecks. Seagal keeps his cool and beats them all senseless with nothing but a wooden dowel and his bare hands. In the fight he breaks 2 guys' noses. When the sheriff comes to arrest him, the reverend vouches, on Taggart's behalf, that it was self defense. Now Jr. decides to up the ante. He has his boys throw a beating to Cotton Harry and frame Jack. The sheriff shows up with about 5 of his deputies and tell him he's under arrest. Now it's personal. Taggart tells the sheriff that he knows he's with the EPA and that he can arrest the sheriff just as easy as the sheriff can arrest him. Now the deputies draw their guns and it's on. Segal beats the hell out of the 6 local cops, choking one by pushing his gun down his throat. Orin Jr. has been keeping his old man updated and with each failed attempt to scare off Taggart he becomes more impatient. Old Hanner decides to do things the hard way. He sends a big rig driving assassin after Taggart. The guy in the 18 wheeler is slamming Seagal's truck and trying to run him off/into cliffs. Jack gains some space and then stops his truck at the edge of a cliff. The driving assassin tries to ram seagal, but he gets out of the truck and dodges the oncoming rig just in time, sending the assassin plunging down into a deep quarry.
While searching for clues, Taggart has been falling for the outcasted chick and he's even agreed to take her to the dance. Jack arrives with his lady at the dance and for some reason the country band lets him take a little guitar solo. While Seagal is shredding on guitar and flirting with the band leader, Orin Jr. is harassing Sara. After Jr. talks some trash, Seagal turns around and punches him in the balls. Then he tells him "now you can sue me." Taggart then turns down a bribe from Orin Sr. who in turn burns down the town's church. This puts the townsfolk into a frenzy and Jack takes Sara's brother to show him the mine where the toxic waste dump is. When they get there Jack discovers that its a trap. Sara's brother is a bad guy who molested her as a child and killed their dad because Sara told him about the molestation. Jack is trapped in the mine now and surrounded by hillbillies with guns. He starts fighting and shoots a toxic waste barrel which spills it's contents all over Sara's brother's face. Seagal chokes another bad guy to death with his own arm. Orin Jr. has rigged the mine to explode and Taggart only narrowly escapes before the whole thing collapses. Taggart now has the location of the waste along with Sara as his witness, so he calls his boss at the EPA to send some US Marshalls to take Sara into protective custody. Of course, Jack's boss is on Hanner's payroll too and he sends a couple of phony Marshalls to make the pick-up. Jack takes chase and runs them into a gas station. One of the guys is hurt real bad, but the other takes Sara and leads Jack on a short chase. Taggart sees the assailant duck out a door with Sara and so he shoots through a wall at the moving target and hits him in the head, killing him instantly. Now it's time for Jack to deal with the other guy in the gas-soaked crash scene. He tosses a lit road flare at the guy but he catches it. Then Jack shoots the flare in half so that the lit end is sent flying. Taggart is merciful man though, and so he shoots the lit part of the flare which extinguishes it Not a single spark hits the gas-covered ground beneath the guy.
On the legal side of things, Jack's boss hooks Hanner up with some B.S. pollution charge and even after a guilty plea Hanner only gets fined 25 grand. Taggart wants real justice so he approaches Orin Jr. After karate chopping through an oncoming pool cue and into a bodyguards face he convinces Jr. to testify against his dad. Taggart goes to Orin Sr.'s casino and deals with Hanner's bodyguards by breaking one guys arm and smashing his face into another guys head. Next Jack kicks another guys leg into the third guys balls. Finally, he meets with Orin Sr. and tells him not to worry because he has "a dear friend named Tyrone who's promised me when you hit prison he'll take you under his wing and teach you the most intimate social graces of prison..."
This was a pretty sick movie. It is probably Seagal's most ridiculous character ever and there's a ton of over-the-top action. The movie had 3 broken noses and 2 broken arms. I felt that if there were another 10 minutes of the film captain planet probably would have made a cameo, but there was no such luck. Just Seagal's covert abilities to blend in to this small Appalachian town earn this movie a good rating. Definitely a 5 ponytail flick.
Fire Down Below: 5 Ponytails
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Steven Seagal stars in Into the Sun as ex-CIA sniper Travis Hunter. The movie opens up with Hunter and his spotter, (Heisman Trophy award winning, Pro Bowl running) back Eddie George deep in some foreign jungle getting ready for an assassination. Everything seems to be going as planned until Seagal blows their cover to help some random chick in trouble. A simple operation turns into a huge firefight that ends with Eddie George getting shot, making for a long drawn out death scene.
Next, the movie jumps to Tokyo, Japan where the governor of Tokyo is assassinated by Yakuzas. For some reason this is the business of the CIA and the FBI, and even though Seagal's character is retired, the CIA drags him into it, because he grew up in Yakuza territory. Only one man can stop the Yakuza... and apparently its a big fat white guy who can't even complete a sniper mission without getting his spotter killed. Hunter is pretty irritated that the CIA is having him come in on this job, but for some reason he helps anyway. He is assigned an FBI partner, who happens to be a rookie, and the quarterback from Blue Crush. Seagal and the rook hit the hard streets of Tokyo and start snooping around. For some reason, the eldest Yakuza leader has promised Hunter his daughter, Jewel, as his slave or something and so she's along for the ride as well. However, instead of banging the chick Hunter has her run his errands. Meanwhile Travis is sparking an ice-cold romance with some cocktail waitress named Nayako, who apparently has a past with him. At one point they even pinky swear a marriage proposal in a garden while Nayako is dressed like a geisha.
On the streets Hunter has learned that it's not the Yakuza that have been behind the recent crime wave, but a guy named Kuroda who has teamed up all the baddest youngsters of the Yakuza and the Chinese gang, the Tongs. This is obviously pissing off the elders of these two gangs but instead of turning against Kuroda, most of them are acting like there's nothing they can do about it and letting Kuroda eventually turn the two gangs against one another. Kuroda is pretty smart and he finds out quickly that Seagal is on his trail. For this he kills the FBI dude and Nayako. This only makes Hunter more angry so, with Jewel and some tattoo artistin tow, he heads out to take down Kuroda before he becomes too powerful and takes over the entire Tokyo underground. They all march into Kuroda's hideout with Samurai swords and take out all of his gang and eventually Kuroda himself. The movie then ends quietly with Seagal pinky swearing with the ghost of Nayako.
This movie was pretty terrible. It had some potential with a decent Japanese cast that included Chiaki Kuriyama for a two second cameo, but the story was almost as lame as Seagal's character. Every single supporting character in the movie made no sense and had about a 2 second explanation as to why Seagal's character or anyone else should give a shit about them. The only cool part of the movie is when Seagal stabs some guy in the neck with a set of chopsticks and the guy dies instantly. There was only 1 broken arm and 1 broken leg. One ponytale is as generous as I can get for a movie directed by a guy named Mink who's only other credited directing gig starred Busta Rhymes and Xzibit.
Into the Sun: 1 Ponytale
Monday, November 5, 2007
Seagal is featured in this one as police officer, Lt. Jack Cole. Cole is the mysterious new guy on the force in LA, fresh from NYC. No one seems to be able to find any trace of his past and he's into a lot of weird magic stuff. He moved out to LA to be closer to his kids who live with their mother and stepfather.
Coincidentally, when Cole arrives on the scene a serial murderer, known only as The Family Man, is on the loose. One thing people do seem to know is that back in NYC Cole had a run in with his commanding officer about what may or may not have been a bad shoot on a serial killer. Cole is partnered with Keenan Ivory Waynes, who isn't any happier about it than Seagal is. The first Family Man crime scene that Jack investigates doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the murders, even though it fits the M.O. almost perfectly. Jack suspects that it's maybe an elaborate copycat done by a pro. It didn't take Jack long to get on peoples nerves in LA. Him and Waynes report on scene to a school where a troubled young student has taken his classroom hostage and is threatening to kill himself. Seagal tackles the kid through one window and across and through a window to the next building over, saving his life. The kids rich daddy thanks Seagal but for some reason Seagal doesn't like him and so he acts like a dick to him. Later, the rich kids dad, Frank Deverell sends his security guy, Cunningham over to try to convince Jack to testify on the kids behalf. Seagal is visibly pissed off by this and tells Cunningham "Now get your ugly white ass outta here." Deverell isn't happy about this and so he pulls a few strings with his friends in the Russian mob and has them make a phony call in about the Family Man killings. Seagal and Waynes go to meet the supposed informant at an abandoned parking garage but quickly discover that it's an ambush and they are surrounded by Russian mobsters. Waynes tries to act tough and gets pistol whipped but Jack tells them he's gonna buy em off for twice what they're being paid. He asks if cash is alright, then pulls out his credit card and asks if they take plastic. Before anyone knows whats happening a knife pops out of the card and Seagal slashes three baddies' throats and then starts viciously beating another guy with a punch/block combo that lasts about 30 seconds before he kicks the dude off the parking garage and impales him on construction equipment. This doesn't solve Jack's problems though.
The next Family Man crime scene is his wife's house and her and her husband appear to have been killed by the same pro from the last murder. Worse yet, someone has planted Jack's prints on one of the bodies. Jack needs answers so he tries getting in touch with his old CIA mentor, Smith. When Smith refuses to get in touch with him, Seagal seeks him out. He goes to a really fancy restaurant where Smith is having a meeting and storms in, punching Smith's bodyguard through a window. He finally talks to Smith who is claiming ignorance of any pro good enough to pull these jobs off in the area. Seagal sees that talking to Smith isn't getting anywhere, but suspects foul play. Smith's bodyguard is pissed and tells Seagal, on his way out, that next time he sees him he'll kill him, even with Jack's magic and potions. Jack the responds "I have a potion in my pocket right now that will completely clear up that bruise on your forehead." Then he punches the guy out which begins a rampage of Seagal beating the shit out of a dozen or so bad guys and completely trashing the upscale eatery.
Soon, the cops find out who the real Family Man killer is and of course are completely off track as to where to find him. Seagal is smart though, and goes to the local church and kills him. It was a clean kill, but too much like the one from NYC that got Cole into so much trouble. Before he was killed the Family Man told Cole he had nothing to do with the last two murders. Meanwhile Deverell is pushing for Seagal to get fired and the planted print on his ex-wife isn't helping matters. Seagal's commanding officer takes him aside in a bathroom to tell him that he's suspended. Jack just looks at him, and asks him "which one of those did you just piss in?" and tosses his badge into the urinal the guy just peed in. At this point Seagal and Waynes have pretty much figured out that Deverell has been smuggling chemical weapons for the Russian mafia and that the last two "Family Man" murders were set-ups. Both witnesses, including his wife who was Deverell's kid's shrink. Deverell feared that his kid squealed about his misdoings and so Seagal's ex had to go. At the same time, Deverell is finding out about Cole. Deverell, who has been working with Smith, all along gets Smith to tell him whats going on. Smith reveals that Cole was his star agent known simply as the Glimmer Man. "There'd be nothin' but jungle, then a glimmer. Then you'd be dead." For obvious reasons the two are weary about Jack getting so close to blowing open their operation. They decide to cut off any loose ends. That meant killing Seagal, Waynes and Deverell's kid. Cunningham, who is the pro behind the copycat murders is sent over to take out Waynes, but Keenan narrowly escapes the explosion of his apartment. Meanwhile, two phony officers are sent to "arrest" Cole for the murder of his ex. They turn out to be professional killers and once Seagal notices this he goes to work. From the backseat of the car (two assassins in front) Seagal disarms the guy in the passenger seat and pistol whips him about 25 times until he is dead. Then he takes out the other guy and leaves to help Waynes protect Deverell's kid. From here the two set up Deverell, with some help from his kid, to be killed by Cunningham and then Seagal throws Cunningham out a window and lets him land so his jaw is impaled by a big spike.
Despite the really overcomplicated storyline, this is probably one of if not the baddest characters that Seagal has played. Just the pistol whipping scene alone earns this movie 2 extra ponytails. That's how bad ass it was. Also, at one point Seagal's character tells Waynes to put a powder under his tongue for his allergies, once Waynes complies Seagal reveals the powder to be powdered deer penis. The broken bone count was pretty average with 3 broken arms and a broken leg, I think Seagal only actually shot maybe 1 or two guys. All the action was hand to hand which made it that much better. This was definitely a 5 ponytail feature.
The Glimmer Man: 5 Ponytails
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Today You Die starts off on the right foot, with two taglines, which is pretty sweet. It also has what might be my favorite Seagal character yet. He plays a modern day Robin Hood, who steals from drug dealers and gives to hospitals and poor people etc...
The movie opens with his weirdo wife having a messed up satanic dream and then leads into Seagal's character, Harlen Banks, committing his first of many crimes punishable by death in several U.S. states. Harlen sneaks into some drug dealer's home and robs them, but his job is interrupted by two other thieves whom he shoots to death. This obviously alarms the guards whom he has to kill as well, and then he slips away with the loot. When he gets home he promises his wife that he's retiring from the thievery business and that he knows a guy in Vegas that has a legit driving job for him. Meanwhile his wife keeps telling him that her psychic dreams are warning her against all of this but Seagal only pretends to care. He meets with the guy heading the job, Max, and smells something is fishy, but he goes along with it anyway. Once on the job, it starts off innocent enough. He drives to a casino and waits while his assigned partner goes to get the money. Harlens wife calls him while he's waiting, and when he answers she actually asks him "why are you whispering" as if Seagal has used any other tone in this or any other movie. When his partner comes back, he loses it and shoots two security guards and they drive off in a hurry with a gun to Harlen's head. Things get worse when they realize it was a set-up. Cops were outside waiting for them and now the chase is on. It is in this sequence that Seagal takes part in crime punishable by death #3 (#2 consists of him just being the driver during an armed robbery when the guards were shot). Seagal leads a chase all over Las Vegas that ends up smashing several civilian vehicles and killing God knows how many, while also smashing up multiple cruisers and killing 3 cops. Once he shakes the police, Seagal ditches the money and the truck and lays down on the side of the road until he gets picked up by the cops. Knowing that his knowledge of the whereabouts of the money is the only thing that's going to keep him alive, Seagal tells officials that he can't remember where he stashed it, and tries to install his claim that he was under the impression his job was legit. This of course, doesn't go over too well and so he gets locked up. While in prison, Harlen befriends the leader of a prison gang, Treach, who promises to help him bust out. Before Harlen gets a chance to leave, the guy who went crazy on the casino job tries to shank the location of the money out of him. Seagal doesn't waver a bit when he's told that he'll cut him up if he doesn't tell. He simply responds, "I got some advice for you. I think you should be my mother-fucking guest." He then of course beats the crap out of the guy, and breaks his arm and maybe a leg. From here, crime punishable by death #4 occurs.
Treach and him start a full-fledged prison riot in order to create a diversion for their escape, which entails the two of them flying out of there in a stolen sheriff's chopper.
Once out, Harlen can hunt down all the bad guys that lead up to Max, the guy who double-crossed him. Treach agrees to help out so long as he gets a cut of the money that Seagal stole from the Casino. So the two start off at the bottom with some low level guy and catches him on his way out from work. Seagal gets into the guys car and tells him they can do it the easy way or "The hard way is, I'm gonna take this 6'' gun and I'm gonna blow your little 2'' dick off..." the guy talks, but then tries to shoot Seagal so he gets killed anyway. Next, Harlen and Treach set up some of the other bad-guys by ratting them out for another job they did - stealing from the Japanese mafia. There's a long drawn out gun-fight that leads to Harlen getting the whereabouts of Max's two right hand men. They are tracked down and by this time it becomes apparent that these guys are working with the FBI. One of the guys, Vincent gets a personal visit from Seagal. When Vincent's body guard (UFC champion fighter Randy Couture) opens the door and asks who he is, Seagal responds "Uh... Girlscouts of America" and then kicks the shit out of him and the rest of the bodyguards. One of the guys tells Harlen where to find Max and sets up a meeting to exchange the cash for Harlen's freedom. Seagal goes to Max's place and Max reveals himself as a total quack before introducing Seagal to Bartholomew, a ninja guy who appears to be a formidable foe for Seagal. He does a bunch of flips and karate moves, Seagal takes one look at him and then pulls out a gun and shoots him, Indiana Jones style. After defeating a few henchmen Harlen makes his way out of the building just in time to watch Max take off in his chopper... and get blown up by the bomb that Harlen had planted on it. Now he goes back to meet up with Treach and rendezvous with the FBI guys. Of course, Seagal didn't trust them so he set them up and killed them all once they arrived (I'm pretty sure killing federal agents, even if they're crooked, is punishable by death). Then he blew up the warehouse that they met in... for no reason. He gives Treach a little money and gives some to a children's hospital and everyone is happy.
This is one of the more ridiculous stories of any of the Seagal movies. His character is completely nuts, and at the end of the day gets away with committing 5 different crimes that would at least gotten him life without parole in prison (that doesn't include killing a few guys here and there). There were 4 broken arms and a broken leg in this film and Seagal's whispering was incessant. There wasn't, however all that much action in this one and the story was WAY too complicated. Today You Die is definitely good for 3 ponytales though.
Today You Die: 3 Ponytales
Friday, November 2, 2007
"It's a Split Second Between Hit or Miss"
"He's Back... And He's On Deadly Ground"
Out of reach stars Steven Seagal as former covert agent turned survivalist, Billy Ray Lancing. This is one of Seagal's later movies, which illustrates his softer side, an Eco-Zen-Warrior as one Seagal devotee noted. The film begins where many CSA agents go to retire, a wildlife refuge in Northern Alaska. Lancing is spotted combing the forest for injured animals in a Neoesque Brown Leather Coat. For being such an animal lover, I find it very unusual for Seagal’s character to be wearing so much leather. Later in the movie, Lancing is seen wearing what I believe to be a mink coat of sorts. But nevertheless he finds himself an injured falcon, which he soon begins to bring back to health.
Much of the storyline is informed to the viewer through a series of read letters between Billy Ray and Irina Morawska, a 13-year-old orphan girl living in Poland that Lancing has financially adopted. Once again I note this movie chooses to show Steven’s softer side in a creative twist. And speaking of soft, Lancing’s words in the movie are whispered so softly that the untrained ear would have a difficult time following.
In the first few pen pal letters Lancing begins to teach his new friend to read and write letters written in code. This is obviously an adage to Lancing’s covert years. This code writing plays a large role in the movie as Irina’s orphanage is actually a human trafficking front and Irina is taken away, and must use her natural code writing ability to leave clues for Seagal to track their movement. She actually manages to rearrange hor’ dourves to let Lancing know that he is walking into a trap.
There is a very entertaining scene where the local baddie simply known as Faisal hands out roses to girls he plans on taking from the orphanage in a bachelor like fashion. The shear ridiculousness of this scene itself, earns the movie an extra ponytail rating. But I digress.
In the first action sequence of the film, Billy is attacked by five men inside his cabin. A man throws a coffee table across the room at Billy, but he can block it with his forearm causing it to split in half. There is also a scene where he teams up with a local woman cop to help find the missing girls. The cop gets shot in the shoulder and Seagal performs emergency surgery on her by boozing the woman up with vodka, then removing the bullet with a steak knife and finally cauterizing the wound with a butter knife.
In the final showdown, Lancing and Faisal duel it out with some amazing swordplay. I wish there was a little more bone breaking than what went on during the movie. There was only one broken knee, but only after he kicked the man in the groin. Billy Ray also did pistol whip a hole into another mans head.
The end of the movie kind of plays off how the beginning of the movie started us. Seagal is once again searching the forest for injured animals but this time the letters are being read between Irina and the woman cop he met in Poland. Lancing has officially adopted Irina along with a boy that played a minor role in the movie helping Lancing find Irina. The two seem to be enjoying their stay in America as they are youthfully seen playing in the North Alaskan back country with the falcon Seagal’s character healed before this great ordeal.
Out of Reach: 3 Ponytails Trailer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The movie opens up with Steven Seagal, as undercover FBI agent - Sasha Petrosovich, easily fooling a lie detector test for some Mafiosos. Sasha is bent on busting these sleazy mobsters because they killed his wife. Once they are convinced he's one of them, it's onto some business. Sasha's partner in crime, Nick Frazier (Ja Rule) hooks him up with the usual gig- boosting fancy cars. Of course, being a snitch, Seagal had set Nick up, hoping he'd squeal on the boss. Instead, Ja Rule pulled out his pistols and has a shoot-out with a handful of heavily armed federal agents that ends with Seagal getting shot in the back. Everyone thought he was dead, but he wasn't... he was half-passed dead. The movie then fast-forwards to a revamped Alcatraz, tricked out with all the latest technology- they even got Playstations in the cells. It's here where Seagal plants himself (disguised in his do-rag) to try to get his partner Nick to snitch to him about some crimes that the mob boss has committed. Seagal and Ja Rule immediately hit-it off and have a real touching scene of apology, acting like an old married couple. What Sasha and the feds don't know is that some guy who stole 20 million dollars worth of federal gold has been sent to the new Alcatraz as well. He's there to test out the new hi-tech execution chamber. All that gold was never found and this guy plans on taking their whereabouts with him to his grave. Some crazy guy who works for the government doesn't want that to happen though. His goons and he break into Alcatraz and hold a bunch of people hostage, including some senator that was there to witness the execution. The bad guy and his posse start killing people and making demands for the gold, but their chopper crashes though the prison roof and so they need a ride out too. Seagal goes around killing off all of the henchmen, one of which he battles with like hang-tough (the American Gladiators competition). Sasha then rallies up all the inmates for a rebellion against the crazy guy and his gang. Theres a big boring gun-fight and most everyone dies except for Ja Rule and Seagal and the lead bad guy. He ends up taking off in an FBI chopper and takes the senator with him where he eventually tosses her out of it for Seagal to sky-dive after. The bad guy was caught, and Seagal hooks Ja Rule up with a pardon from his prison time for all of his help.
As you can clearly tell from the synopsis, this movie was pretty terrible. There was barely any real action, Seagal didn't break ANY bones, and his character's name was Sasha. Ja Rule does get his ass kicked by a girl though, so that earns Half Past Dead an extra half of a ponytail, totaling it up at 1.5 Ponytails.
Half Past Dead: 1.5 Ponytails